Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen beat Formula 1 championship rival Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by just three hundredths of a second to claim pole position for his home race the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas finished third for Mercedes, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly put in an impressive performance to claim fourth place on the grid.
At the start of the Q1 Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez set the early benchmark with a lap of 1:10.700. Verstappen was close behind on track, however, and he powered past his team-mate’s time to reset the bar at 1:10.036.
Mercedes, meanwhile, sent both its drivers out on medium tyres and Pérez dropped to fourth place as as Hamilton took second place ahead of Bottas. Pérez extended his run, but despite getting down to 1:10.530 he dropped to P7 as better times came in. And the Mexican’s failure to set a secure time early in the session ended up being his undoing.
Knowing that the track was ramping up massively, Red Bull readied the Mexican for a final run. However, seeking a workable gap on the short track, drivers began to form a solid queue at the end of pit lane and Pérez’s exit was slowed. Thus he failed to make it across the line before the chequered flag and as rivals posted improvements the Mexican fell down the order and he was eliminated in P16 ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikia Mazepin.
Verstappen was straight into action at the start of Q2 and he posted a tough target at the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:09.071. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc got closest to that time ahead of the final runs, with the Monegasque setting a time of 1:09.437 to take P2 ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, Hamilton and Bottas.
Williams’ George Russell was one of the first out on track for the final runs of the second segment but at the end of his flying lap he carried too much speed into the penultimate corners and slid off into the barriers. The red flags were quickly displayed and the clock was stopped with just under four minutes remaining.
However, when the session eventually resumed it lasted less than two minutes as on his flying lap Nichola Latifi lost control in Turn 8 and the second Williams went into the barriers hard. The red flags were again shown and Race Control quickly indicated that the session would not be resumed. It meant that eliminated after the middle segment were Russell in 11th place followed Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Norris, Latifi and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
In Q3 Verstappen again went out early to stake his claim to pole and he claimed provisional pole with an impressive lap of 1:08.923. Neither Mercedes driver had an initial response and Bottas took P2 0.099s behind the Red Bull, with Hamilton just under five hundredths of a second further back in third place.
In the final runs Verstappen proved unbeatable. Hamilton found more time but in the end it was only enough to match the Red Bull driver’s earlier lap and Verstappen secured pole for his home grand prix with a stunning lap of 1:08.885.
Bottas was left with third place, while Gasly shone in claiming fourth spot on the grid ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Giovinazzi was seventh, while Esteban Ocon took eighth place ahead of Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:08.885 7 222.579
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:08.923 0.038 0.055 7 222.456
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.222 0.337 0.489 7 221.496
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:09.478 0.593 0.861 6 220.679
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:09.527 0.642 0.932 6 220.524
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:09.537 0.652 0.947 6 220.492
7 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:09.590 0.705 1.023 6 220.324
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:09.933 1.048 1.521 6 219.244
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:09.956 1.071 1.555 6 219.172
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:10.166 1.281 1.860 6 218.516
11 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:10.332 1.261 1.826 5 218.000
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:10.367 1.296 1.876 5 217.891
13 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:10.406 1.335 1.933 5 217.771
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:11.161 2.090 3.026 7 215.460
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:11.314 2.243 3.247 4 214.998
16 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:10.530 0.701 1.004 9 217.388
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:10.731 0.902 1.292 7 216.770
18 Robert Kubica Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:11.301 1.472 2.108 9 215.037
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:11.387 1.558 2.231 11 214.778
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:11.875 2.046 2.930 10 213.32